Researcher-community partnerships to reduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander drug and alcohol-related harms: lessons learned from multiple NDARC projects

Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Alice Munro
Prof Anthony Shakeshaft
Dr Bianca Calabria
Bonita Byrne

Aboriginal Australians experienced loss of life, land, language, culture and freedom during the colonisation of Australia and throughout subsequent government policies. Some of the most visible manifestations of these harmful legacies are the disproportionately high rates of drug and alcohol-related harms, violence, incarceration, suicide, chronic health conditions and unemployment, compared to their non-Aboriginal counterparts. Aboriginal leaders in communities across Australia have called for greater Aboriginal decision-making as well as more effective partnerships with researchers to work alongside them to reduce these harms. 

In response, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre have been actively increasing its efforts to create meaningful and effective partnerships with Aboriginal communities. The aim is to work in close collaboration combining local Aboriginal expertise with academic evaluation knowledge to devise, implement and evaluate Aboriginal-specific strategies to address drug and alcohol-related harms. The authors of this presentation have been involved in projects involving 13 communities or organisations from 2013 to2017. 

Key principles of this panel presentation will include engaging early with Aboriginal services and leaders, being willing to develop longer-term partnerships and listening to community/service needs to ensure researchers tailor evaluation models that enhance a community’s capacity to actively engage and take ownership of the research process.